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Natural Resources Defense Council v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20139
Nos. 18-cv-11227 (PKC), (S.D.N.Y., 08/22/2019) (Castel, J.)

A district court denied environmental groups' motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit seeking FOIA disclosure of an EPA computer model related to its rollback of Obama-era greenhouse gas emission standards for vehicle manufacturers. The groups challenged EPA's withholding of the model pursuant to a FOIA exemption for inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters that would not be available by law to a party other than the agency in litigation. The court found that declarations by Agency staff—that EPA determined it was reasonable to rely on a different computer model to analyze alternatives to the Obama-era standards than the model at issue and that the Agency did not rely on the model at issue in developing its 2018 rule modifying the standards—were facially adequate to justify EPA's withholding of the model pursuant to the exemption. It further held that discovery was not warranted because the groups failed to make a showing of bad faith or to present tangible evidence contrary to EPA's declarations to overcome the Agency's presumption of good faith. It therefore denied the groups' motion.